As SA Executive Board and Binghamton University Council candidates presented platforms and plans for the 2019-20 academic year, students voiced concerns about transparency and mental health at SA Sweeps on Wednesday night.

Mental health resources on campus have been a topic of discussion for several years, particularly after the University Counseling Center (UCC) moved to a brief therapy model, which aims to help students reach personal goals and provide solution-based care. The move left students who require long-term therapy unable to access it at BU.

Shannon Doherty, a sophomore majoring in history, said that sparking a discussion for mental health was a crucial issue that needed to be addressed by candidates.

“The conversation needs to be out there,” Doherty said.

Other students discussed the importance of transparency and communication, particularly in the aftermath of a canceled Fall Concert, when students who paid for tickets were left unsure for weeks whether the concert would be rescheduled or their money would be refunded. There have also been other issues with communication, such as when SA Congress failed to make meeting and committee minutes available for public access for the entirety of the fall semester, a situation SA Congress officials said arose from difficulties with their website.

SA Sweeps, which initially began when candidates would “sweep” through campus communities to attend each of their government meetings, now take place in one room, and all undergraduate students are welcome to attend and discuss candidates’ platforms. Each candidate was given two minutes for an opening statement, which was followed by rounds of questions from students separated by their respective communities. Candidates also made a two-minute closing statement.

This year, three positions — BU Council student representative, SA president and SA vice president for programming (VPP) — are opposed. BU Council candidates Franklin Richards, a first-year graduate student studying public administration, and Richard Caldicott, a junior double-majoring in political science and philosophy, both addressed mental health heavily in their platforms, with Caldicott advocating for a change to the brief therapy model of care provided by the UCC and Richards arguing that campus mental health resources could benefit from expansion and reorganization.

Caldicott said that the short-term care model currently used by the University is not effective for all students.

“We need to extend awareness and accessibility for mental health resources on campus,” Caldicott said. “We need to continue to re-examine our mental health resources on campus.”

Richards, who has worked as a residential assistant in Dickinson Community, said his experience dealing with his residents gave him an understanding of the importance of adequate mental health resources.

“They need to have a certain reorganization within the UCC,” Richards said. “Whether it is bringing in outside additional help that can aid the counselors that we do have now to continue to serve the University.”

Candidates for VPP focused on ways to improve the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) and its communication with the student body. Lillian Carr, a sophomore majoring in economics, Jillian Pizzuto, a junior majoring in Spanish and Christopher Wright, a junior double-majoring in economics and political science, discussed their plans for the position, and tackled questions surrounding the cancellation of Fall Concert, which was supposed to feature 21 Savage. Maya Kallman, a sophomore double-majoring in business administration and graphic design, is a candidate for VPP, but was unable to attend SA Sweeps.

Pizzuto, who currently serves as the SAPB’s comedy chair, said there was quite a bit of unpredictability and the pandemonium surrounding the 21 Savage concert.

“Communication is extremely important — that would definitely be a priority to me,” Pizzuto said. “I know even I was sitting in my apartment waiting to know. ‘Should I go to the concert? Should I not? When should I show up?’”

As part of her communication platform, Pizzuto said that she plans to concentrate on increasing student knowledge of organizations and events.

“I want all students to know about all the opportunities available to them,” Pizzuto said.

But Carr said communication wasn’t the only issue with Fall Concert. She advocated for planning the concert, and other campus events, more aggressively and productively to ensure they happen at ideal times.

“A lot of people don’t know, [but at] Binghamton Airport, they don’t have the proper safety equipment to clean up the snow,” Carr said. “That’s why I want to have the concert earlier in the semester.”

Carr also said she hopes to improve diversity within campus events, ensuring all students feel represented and at home.

“As a EOP student and a person of color and also a woman on campus, it is hard to navigate through spaces that I might not be represented in,” Carr said.

As a member of the SAPB’s Concerts Committee, Wright had a front-row seat to the cancellation of Fall Concert. He said his experience will allow him to avoid pitfalls in the future.

“Dealing with having the concert earlier, making sure that we have communication with Binghamton Airport, all those things are important,” Wright said. “A lot of it deals with how we are communicating with our Events Center staff and how we are communicating with people who are involved at a larger state.”

Candidates for SA President fielded a wide variety of questions, from concerns about sexual assault and harassment to student outreach. Emma Ross, a junior double-majoring in political science and psychology, Christopher Li, a junior majoring in accounting, and Arsenije “Arsh” Markicevic, a junior quadruple-majoring in physics, philosophy, economics and philosophy, politics and law, described their platforms, which hit on the future of the SA and its organization.

Ross, who has served as a campus organizer for It’s On Us, a national campaign against sexual assault on college campuses, said BU needs to continue to focus on expanding resources for students impacted by sexual harassment.

“A lot of this happens behind closed doors and its important that we give student leaders the tools to have effective conversations about sexual assault,” Ross said. “It’s not about you need to step in, it’s about here are your resources when something happens and we’re here to support you if it does.”

Ross said further expansion of mental health resources is not only crucial, but can help begin a discussion on sexual assault.

“I believe that your education should be your priority,” Ross said. “As the student government we should be here to help you focus on that.”

Amid the discussion of sexual assault, Li said that he was a self-proclaimed feminist.

“I really want to put women first,” Li said. “I’m male and I understand that I have a lot of privilege going through life. I want to be able to use that privilege to be able to help women be able to fight and combat these issues.”

Li is also advocating for an expansion of the SA E-board, which he hopes will help bridge the gap between the SA and the student body.

Markicevic also aims to increase student outreach and involvement. He aims to create a more active, involved campus community by focusing on people as individuals through his “You Matter” initiative. He said that he hopes this will increase attendance to events like SA Sweeps.

“My campaign slogan is ‘Open and United,’” Markicevic said. “I want the SA to be as open to the student body as possible.”

Melanie Cruz, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said she attended in hopes of learning about the candidates running for student government positions.

“I think it’s important to be educated on who you’re voting for,” Cruz said.